Lifestyle, Residents

Stepping Out with John MacIntyre, Seasoned Soles Walking Club Founder

Group od seniors running through the trails at Blue Skies of Texas.

Next time you’re at a 5K race, keep an eye out for the Seasoned Soles Walking Club from Blue Skies of Texas, one of the state’s largest not-for-profit senior living communities. With their bright blue shirts reading “Run for Your Life,” this group of 65- to 86-year-old athletes is easy to spot. But be warned: You might have trouble keeping up with them.

We spoke with John MacIntyre, Seasoned Soles organizer and coach, about how he champions the cause of getting—and keeping—his neighbors at Blue Skies moving. If you need some inspiration for your New Year’s resolutions, you’re in the right place.

Getting to the Starting Line

Physical activity has always been important to MacIntyre, a former U.S. Army officer. But his passion for running didn’t begin until after he retired. “When I was 68, I saw an ad for a 5K race and decided to give it a try,” MacIntyre says. Soon the 5Ks turned into 10Ks and MacIntyre was off and running. He credits Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run training program for helping him stay fit and injury free.

So what drove MacIntyre to launch Seasoned Soles? It was a desire to get folks “off the couch” and give them a regular opportunity to socialize. “After I moved to Blue Skies in 2017, I spent a lot of time walking or jogging around the community,” he explains. “I noticed that other people were out doing the same thing, so in 2018 I asked the administration if they’d support me in organizing a running group. They said ‘sure!’”

As the members of the newly formed Seasoned Soles got to know each other, some expressed interest in training for 5K events. Before long, MacIntyre added more rigorous running to the mix, including coaching for racing events. “Now we have a nice blend of beginners and veterans,” MacIntyre says. “Everyone’s welcome.”

Ready … Set … Go!

When it comes to exercise, consistency is key, which is why Seasoned Soles meets three times per week, typically on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. And although MacIntyre is a retired military man, he makes it clear that he’s not here to play the role of drill sergeant. “People come when they wish, and do what they feel comfortable doing,” he says.

Newcomers typically start in the “casual” group, where the pace isn’t too fast and walkers cover a mile or two of ground per session. Folks who’ve been training for some time gravitate toward the advanced group for a faster pace and distances that stretch to 5 kilometers.

Nothing is set in stone, however. Members can choose to walk with the faster group during some workouts and switch to the casual group for others. “We all start together as a unit,” MacIntyre explains, “and we always walk in pairs, so no one feels left behind.”

John MacIntyre running in a race. John MacIntyre Four runners holding their metals up after running a race.

Off to the Races

While not every Seasoned Soles member races competitively, those who do maintain a full schedule of events. “This year we’ve done a little over 30 organized races as a group,” MacIntyre says. “These included meets throughout the San Antonio area and beyond. One of our runners even ran a half marathon when he visited some old friends in Pennsylvania.”

It all adds up to more than 600 collective miles run in 2023, and the Seasoned Soles show no signs of slowing down, even during the holidays. “We’ve done plenty of Turkey Trots, and this past December we had six people compete in the Rock ’n’ Roll Running Series in San Antonio,” MacIntyre says with pride. “There’s also the St. Nick at Night 5K, which is loads of fun, because the course is rimmed with beautiful festive lights.”

But no matter which race the Seasoned Soles are running, they’re always a force to be reckoned with. “We consistently dominate our age groups,” MacIntyre says, noting that at 86, he’s sometimes the only person in his age group. When that happens, his teammates give him the honorary accolade of Geezer Jock. “I take pride in that nickname,” he laughs, “and even more pride in inspiring others to join me for runs.”

Never Too Late to Start

If you’re ready to lace up your sneakers, but aren’t sure where to begin, no problem. MacIntyre has some words of advice.

“First, do something to get moving, no matter how small,” he says. “One of my friends began by walking down the driveway to get his mail. Now, he’s helping me coach.” MacIntyre adds that he’s had many people thank him for starting the Seasoned Soles club and encouraging them along the way. “They tell me it’s really added to the quality of their lives physically, emotionally and socially.”

And while MacIntyre prefers the simplicity of walking and running, he’s quick to point out that any type of exercise can dramatically increase your energy, stamina and overall health. “Go for a swim, play a round of golf or give pickleball a try,” he says. “Just get up and have some fun!”

Taking a brisk walk with the Seasoned Soles is just one way to stay fit and active at Blue Skies of Texas. Our community is also brimming with opportunities including yoga, aerobics, water activities and much more. And no matter what your exercise goals may be, our Vitality and Fitness Center will help you reach—or surpass—them. To schedule your tour today, call 210-677-8666.